Thursday, February 14, 2019

To Cruise or Not to Cruise: 10 Pros and 10 Cons to Cruising

Cruising is a popular way to travel. From high-end boutique-type vessels to mass market mega-ships (think Carnival), the more money spent the more pampering one receives (or should receive). 

Should you vacation aboard a ship? 

10 pros to cruising:

  1. Escape from ‘real life’. Away from home, surrounded by water, a calming influence (no mention of storms and rough seas allowed), enjoy the scenery (or lack of it) without the phone ringing, laundry waiting, meetings to attend, work beckoning, meals to prepare, errands to run. You are electronically cut off from the world (unless paying to connect).
  2. Food, glorious food! Available all day, usually 24 hours a day. Dining rooms, an extensive buffet, coffee cafe, pizza bar, ice cream stand - most ships offer a variety of venues. And best of all, someone else shops, prepares, cooks, serves, and cleans up.
  3. Learn a new skill, play games, exercise, attend educational lectures…or not. You can be busy all the time, or do nothing. All day. Your choice.
  4. Someone else cleans your room (including the bathroom!) and makes the bed. Everyday. Clean linens magically appear!
  5. Unpack once. Visit different places without packing, unpacking, packing again. Easy travel!
  6. Cruises can be all-inclusive - if you are very, very, VERY careful. The ship runs a tab on extras. Flash your room key card and you are charged. No cash required.
  7. Meet new people and be social. Or not. Your choice.
  8. Most cruise ships offer a variety of entertainment day and night, not quite Broadway quality, but entertaining and part of an all-inclusive package.
  9. Shore excursions offered by cruise lines use reliable pre-selected vendors. Or explore on your own. 
  10. Like to shop? Lots of opportunities aboard ship and in ports.

10 cons to cruising:

  1. Rooms can be small, with little storage space.
  2. If not careful you will be nickel and dimed with extras - alcoholic beverages, specialty coffees and sodas, excursions, restaurants, room service, laundry service, tips, internet…read carefully what IS and IS NOT included in a cruise package. 
  3. Food quality and menu selections vary, but after a while the same menu seems uninteresting. 
  4. If traveling with children, check out the ship’s children's programs and amenities. Kids get bored, and laments of, “there’s nothing to do…” could dampen your vacation.
  5. Sea days can get monotonous.
  6. Not enough time to explore port destinations, usually arriving early a.m. and leaving late afternoon or evening. 
  7. Lines and crowds. There may be lines for the dining room and shows, getting on and off the ship, at port attractions. But popular tourist places are often crowded, a frustration of traveling on the beaten path, especially during tourist season.
  8. Excursions book quickly. To avoid disappointment book pre-cruise. And shore excursions are not cheap. But there are local alternatives or you can tour on your own. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
  9. The power of suggestion. Cruise ships are masters of the entertaining ‘hook’, getting you to spend $$$ on everything from spa services to shopping (especially jewelry), photos, art work, souvenirs, etc.
  10. Bad weather. But weather can cloud any vacation, anywhere. 

A recommendation if considering a cruise. Read reviews before booking for insight into a particular cruise line, ship and itinerary.

Bon voyage! 


  1. Hi Meryl,

    Good tips. I'm going on my first cruise in March and have read about how there's a charge for everything.

    I'm not drinking much alcohol these days, so I'm just going to buy a few drinks instead of getting the alcohol package.


  2. My first, and so far only, cruise was a couple of years ago and included Cuba in the trip. It was the "the prize" for having sat through a timeshare lecture. We only had to pay a couple of hundred dollars for all the food and booze we could eat and drink plus two days in Cuba and another day in the Bahamas. Our expectations are now high for cruising, yet we know that to get what we had, we'd have to pay so much more than we did and maybe than we're willing to in the future.

  3. I love cruising but for many of those reasons I prefer river cruises. There are less people, the rooms are nice, and it's always smooth sailing. However, I've been lucky on ocean cruises so far. We got upgraded on the Queen Elizabeth to a Queen's Grill suite even though we bought a cheap ticket. So far, I haven't stayed in a small cabin, except to Ensenada so I'm totally spoiled. If you want a really small space try living in a sailboat for 3 weeks. I loved that trip especially when we checked into a hotel to take a real shower.